Jabra is an audio company that is known for their high-performance premium headphones. And a lot is the same with their Jabra Elite Sport earbuds, a competitor in the completely wireless headphone market looking to take down Apple’s Airpods. We had an opportunity to check them out, so let’s see if they can compete with the Dash and Airpods.
Jabra stands behind these Elite Sport earbuds ($249.99) not only having great battery life, but comfortability that will last you for a lengthy workout, or just casually listening. Here are some specs of the Elite Sport headphones to start:
After previously reviewing other completely wireless headphones on the market, one major complaint that I stand by is mediocre battery life. I can go up to an hour and a half in the gym, and my commute there takes about twenty minutes and chances are, I’m listening to music or podcasts in route. So I’m going to need stellar battery life, or at least the opportunity to cycle a charge while on the go. This is where the Jabra Elite Sport steps in.
Arriving in a black box, the Jabra Elite Sport makes it clear it wants to be your go-to earbuds, period by simply stating “The most technically advanced true wireless sports earbuds”. That’s enough to make a consumer grab them off a Best Buy shelf, right?
On the back of the box, they highlight things that matter the most almost immediately. Offering you up a powerful sound, it’s worth mentioning they work with both iOS and Android. Also written in yellow which I thought was a bit of a cheat was that you can fully enjoy up to 9 hours. Obviously, there’s a disclaimer here stating that while you can get 9 hours, they mean you can get up to three hours per cycle, and you can charge the Elite Sports up with the on-the-go charging case giving you an additional six hours. Now that’s not necessarily nine hours, right? Despite that, three hours is pretty much what we’re averaging with the competition, so what else can you bring to the table? Well, it seems there’s an in-ear precision heart rate monitor that can track your heart rate while in motion, perfect for someone who’s attempting to track their rates in the gym (more on that later). There’s also an audio coach feature that motivates you throughout your workout.
What’s more, unlike the Bragi Dash headphones, the Jabra Elite Sport do not include on site storage, meaning you cannot listen to tunes on a run without your smartphone. While it’s a feature that I could care less about, others may want this option. It’s not a MAJOR thing, but for $250, some might consider this something that should be included as well.
When you open up the box, you’ll get a closer view of how the Elite Sport will impact your active lifestyle. Featuring a woman on the front wearing her Elite Sport earbuds, you can see she’s laser-focused on her workout, not the dangling cords she’s trying to get rid of (nice touch, Jabra). They’ve mentioned that there is an app you can download as well compatible for Android or iOS as well that I’ll mention later. Also, you’ll notice that Jabra has listed the accessories so you’re not surprised about what you get (or throw away) after you get past the earbuds.
These include two different types of earbud tips that vary not just in size but in functionalities, as well as three secure fit accessories that come in small, medium or large. First are the EarWings, which give a more snug fit inside of your ear, and feature well, a “wing” that sits close to the canal of your ear that makes sure they do not fall out or slide. I even did an obligatory head shake in the gym while wearing these since everyone with Airpods love to show they do not fall out. I just won’t do a backflip, because I can’t.
In terms of actual ear tips you receive, the EarGels, which seems to be more for those who plan on going to the gym and working out with them, or the foam tips which I just end to use more casually. The reason I opt for the EarGels in the gym is because not only do they not build up earwax like the foam tips, they are easier to clean and just feel overall more comfortable. Jabra’s foam tips I do notice isolate noise a bit better which is great for outdoor runs, but like any other foam tips you might use, they will get build-up on them, as well as sweat, and are a PITB to clean.
To the right of the case, you’ll see the two Jabra earbuds above the Jabra on-the-go charging case that are not just for charging but storing so you never lose them.
Once you lift that up, this is where all of the accessories are housed including the earbud tips, the EarWings, instructions, and a USB to charge the on-the-go.
The earbuds themselves look pretty badass, but they feel great. There’s a bit of weight to them that you will feel in your ears as well, but nothing that’s overbearing. Each earbud is marked left or right so you know which ear to place them in.
On the left ear, you’ll simply see the multi-function control buttons on this sitting above and below Jabra’s logo. You control the volume, as well as tracks themselves from the left.
The heart rate sensor sits in the right ear as you can see the little indicator at the bottom of the right earbud, even with the EarWing attached.
Also on the right-hand side, you get the general controls, which not only help you pair your device, but allow you to answer or reject calls, speak to Siri or Google Now, and even give you the ability to open the Jabra Sport Life app (free in app store) for coaching feedback. The bottom serves for more of the play/pause functionality as well as a “power on” switch, while the top serves for the Siri/Google Now/ Sport Life app functionalities.
It’s also worth mentioning that these earbuds are sweat and water RESISTANT, not waterproof. While Jabra gives you a sweet three-year warranty that includes rain and sweat damage, I wouldn’t suggest going snorkeling in them, or even a dip in the pool. There are too many internals to the Elite Sports that could get screwed up taking this risk.
Side note: Once thing did I did notice is compared to the small-sized EarWing and the medium and large sizes, are the extra little flap that sit in the cartilage in your ear. At the time of this review, I do really prefer that extra stability that the mediums give over the small, although I’m sure my ears would prefer the smaller size. They tend to hurt the cartilage in my ears only if I’m casually wearing them around the office, but if I’m in the gym, sweating, they oddly feel better than the smalls. This could be a standalone case for just my particular ears, but if you have similar issues, the obvious solution would be to go down a bit in size.
Just a personal suggestion, after you’ve fully adjusted the earbuds to your liking, quickly charge them for up to thirty minutes before putting them to their first use. The case itself feels sturdy in the hand, and doesn’t look like it get lost. It would’ve been nice to see Jabra include possibly a lanyard so it’s easy to access in a bag, if even to put around your neck when not in use while charging, but again, not a big deal either. When you open the case however you can place the earbuds into the case and this is where things got a bit wonky for me.
As you can see, the earbuds don’t snap completely into place until after you’ve completely shut the case, which could be a bit scary if you’re out in the open walking, and just by chance get bumped and one or both fall out of the case, so be mindful when inserting these for a quick charge. The case does snap shut securely, but I’m more worried about the wobbling in the case with the lid open, even slightly.
Once secured, to the right of the case is the USB charging port which will allow it to be charged when connected to an outlet.
On the front of the device, you will see that the case does signify when it’s charging by having a red LED light on when you first plug it in or close the case to charge when not plugged into USB. When the earbuds are completed their cycle to charge 100%, it’ll show green.
To get the full experience of the Elite Sport earbuds, you might want to try out their Jabra Sports Life app. If you are a fan of fitness, or just want to keep hope alive for your new year resolution, let this app be your guide. When you first open up the app, like many other fitness apps on the market, you’ll have to setup your attributes including your age, weight, date of birth, the list goes on. You have to manually do this however because the app, or the Elite Sport earbuds do not (I repeat, do not) work with Apple’s HealthKit. It’s a bit of a bummer because, what’s the point of having a heart rate monitor if it won’t sync with popular apps such as MyFitnessPal, or worse Apple’s own Health app? If you can get past that, or just enjoy manually entering your details after every workout, you can certainly just transfer them that way from app to app, but this was a big deal for me not having the option to have. The app also is there to do occasional updates to the earbuds themselves, so even if you do not use the fitness aspect, it’s worth keeping on your phone so the Elite Sports have frequent updates.
But if you did get past that and still choose to use the app, once you finish setting up, you’re greeted by a very nice looking app that’s pretty self-explanatory giving you step-by-step details on what you need to do to pair your smartphone with the Elite Sport earbuds. Jabra made sure to go in FULL detail of everything, including how to properly insert the Elite Sport earbuds into your ears which I thought was pretty handy. If you’ve never used completely wireless earbuds before, it’s a process that might take a minute or two to get used to, but practice makes perfect, and Jabra’s got your back on that front. Once firmly in your ear though, not only are they secure, but the audio is absolutely phenomenal.
Working out in the gym is my primary use for the Jabra Elite Sport, and with three hours battery life, they work out pretty well. I can get in my HIIT, some weights, and a little bit of cardio without feeling like I need to charge it. The major thing about the audio though is the bass. After constant sweat filing your ears surrounding the Jabra Elite, the sound quality isn’t compromised one bit. My test tracks for the Jabra Elite Sport were:
· Big Sean- Bounce Back
· PnB Rock – Misunderstood
· Future- Used to This
· Yo Gotti- Castro
· Madeintyo – Skateboard P
· A Boogie Wit da Hoodie – Timeless
Listening to each track in the middle of a full workout, none of the sound diminished, and I could hear everything from strings and vocals crisp as if I were listening in my car or a pair of Hi-Fi headphones. I listened to an hour and 15-minute podcast on the elliptical while shaking my head back and forth (similar to the Airpod commercials because why not), and they did not fall out at all. What I did find out to be even more interesting is the fact that you can use the Elite Sport earbuds in one ear only as well, which is just epic. If you tried these with say, Bragi’s Dash, they would time out in your ear or pause, which is kind of a bummer. This is great for folks who sometimes just want to go on a run with one earbud in so they could hear background noises when crossing the street. I found this to be IDEAL for the outdoor run as with the Jabra Elites don’t have noise cancellation so if your volume is high you won’t hear ambient noises or car horns, but you won’t have the ability to quickly turn the feature on and off. Sure you can turn this off, but who’s checking for this on a run? So the ability to take one ear out completely to hear is not only quicker but works like a charm. Phone call quality is pretty nice as well as I could hear the caller, and they could hear me, even mid-jog, without problem.
After a 45 minute outdoor run on a full battery, I was left with about 64% battery life, as stated by Apple’s “Devices” widget in the notification center which was pretty nice. One thing I would like, though, is the ability to see the battery life in each ear, especially if you intend on running one ear at a time.
In terms of wearing the earbuds for longer, it’s hit or miss. If you’re in the gym, chances are you will not notice them because they will tend to shift during your workouts, more specifically on your run all without falling out of your ear. I attribute that to the sweat adjusting and sliding the EarWings back and forth making them a bit easier to tolerate. But if you plan on using these around the office, it’s all about the cartilage in your ear and the size of the tips you use. When I’m at work, I use the small because they not only fit comfortably in my ear, but I can tolerate using them for 2-3 hours before throwing back in the dock for charging. I tried this same method with the Medium tip, and the cartilage in my ears felt as if I was getting pierced constantly whenever I moved to the point I had to take one ear out in order to justify the pain. Now, this has NOTHING to do with the ear tips at all. Both the silicone and the foam tips are awesome, and function according to what you’re doing, it’s just the EarWings for some odd reason.
The same goes in the opposite direction as well: When I’m in the gym, I have to use the medium size because if I use the small, chances are I’ll spend too much time trying to shove them back into my ears due to sweat making them loose. This could be due to the weight of the actual Elite Sports and the hardware internally, but honestly, I’ve heard this complaint from others, but I think it’s mainly due to the EarWings. The weight you can obviously feel in your ear, but an earbud that feels like it’s sitting secure is much better than one that is “barely there”, to the point you might lose them due to them being too small and loose.
Despite the few bad points, there’s way too much good about the Jabra Elite Sport earbuds to consider. With multiple ways to get you in gear with their own personal workouts, to the stellar battery life and even better portable case, I can certainly see the Jabra Elite Sport being my go-to earbud for the gym (and beyond).
For more information on the Jabra elite Sport, head over to Jabra’s site today.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I Like: Battery life; Heart rate monitor; Turn off automatically when docked.
What Needs Improvement: No third-party apps like RunKeeper or Apple Health to track and sync heart rate monitor; No noise-cancellation